Buhrmaster takes helm at TH High School

CRARYVILLE—James Buhrmaster will be the new principal of Taconic Hills Junior/Senior High School. At the June 18 Board of Education meeting, the board voted to accept with regret the resignation of current principal Marie Digirolamo.

One board member asked if they didn’t approve the motion, “would she have to stay?”

Board President Kevin Maisenbacher said, “If we have to lose Marie, we’re happy to have somebody as qualified as Mr. Buhrmaster.”

Also at the meeting, High School Parent Teacher Organization President and Treasurer Dawn Lawson-Weingaertner made a plea for more support from parents for the PTO. She said that the PTO is a non-profit group independent of the school district and requires parent participation.

Ms. Lawson-Weingaertner took over the presidency because the PTO was going to be dissolved. She said that she and the vice president were the only parents present at the last meeting. “Without support, the PTO is going to cease to exist,” she said.

She listed the contributions that the PTO makes to the school community: Providing items for classrooms; assistance for funding the Fall Festival of Shakespeare; purchase of headphones and art frames; providing scientific calculators at a reduced rate; funding for the science symposium dinner; the Above and Beyond Award; Harvest Club fundraisers; offsets the costs for the science expedition to Dominica and many other activities.

“The High School PTO is still here,” said Ms. Lawson-Weingaertner, “and we want to be a stronger presence.”

Then Allison Haskin, president of the Elementary School PTO, also made a presentation that included a list of the activities that the PTO supports: providing refreshments for the open house; organizing the Fire Prevention Luncheon; snacks for the prekindergarten and kindergarten orientation; help with the D.A.R.E. program; scholastic book fairs; sold daisies for Mothers’ Day; Audubon Society; Field Day awards; the Spring into Learning event, where they provided 650 bowls of ice cream; teacher appreciation; family track meet; Kindergarten t-shirts; helped fund program for High Hopes and Common Threads; the Harlem Wizards basketball game; Read to Succeed program; Books on Wheels, which gave away or sold 3,200 books.

“We’re on an upward spiral,” Mrs. Haskin said.

Board Member Robert Piper whether if the Elementary School PTO is getting more participation than the High School PTO. “We get upwards of 20 people sometimes,” said Mrs. Haskin. Several members of the audience, who said they had seen their kids transition from elementary to high school, confirmed that the Elementary School PTO receives far more support from parents.

In other business at the meeting:

Special Ed teacher Samantha Krueger discussed the Student-Staff Mentoring Program, which has just completed its first year

The Summer Enrichment program has closed enrollment. Some programs will not be running due to low enrollment

•Mr. Maisenbacher reported that the district is “still at an impasse with the support staff”

•James Knickerbocker of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee that the committee suggests doing three separate climate surveys for students, parents, and faculty and staff. The committee also suggested that future lockdown drills take place during lunch or between classes and that substitute teachers and staff receive an orientation to familiarize them with emergency plans and give them a tour of the school buildings.

Mr. Knickerbocker also said that “the administration could consider engaging” the student body’s elected officials. He said it was “not the idea of using these kids as snitches, but to keep a pulse on what’s going on in the student body”

•During the public forum, Faculty President Matt Fuller discussed his views on tenure. “Tenure is the right to have evidence shown,” he said. He asked that people not base their opinions on tenure on “the fact that some judge in Los Angeles City Court—city court—said that tenure’s a bad thing”

•Student Jeffery Montag presented a petition signed by 22 members of the National Honor Society at the school. The petition requested weighted grades. It stated that it is unfair that students who challenge themselves by taking Advanced Placement classes should have a lower class ranking than students who get better grades by taking regular courses.

“We’re a step or two ahead of you,” said Mr. Maisenbacher. “We’ve already been looking at it.”

•A private digital system that will be used for communication with school buses will give bus drivers 90% coverage. Board member Robert Piper asked, “How do they get in contact with us in an emergency” if the bus is in a communications in a dead spot?

An audience member discussing the new system answered, “They don’t, unless they have their own phone”

•Taconic Hills will receive a $100,000 donation from the Rheinstrom Hill Community Foundation for the school’s pool. Mr. Maisenbacher said, “I normally don’t point out individual donations, but he added that this donation is”exceptional.”

(Reporter Tobiah Black is employed by Shakespeare and Company, which runs the Fall Festival of Shakespeare.)


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